ASSAU, BASIN ISLANDS — “What will Phil do next?” may no longer be a question worth asking.
Instead of wondering “What will Collin do next?” the golf world should be wondering “What will Collin do next?”
Collin Morikawa, a 24-year-old youngster, has made a name for himself in the game’s history in a short amount of time. And we’re talking about major accomplishments by one of the game’s best iron players, ones that will be remembered for decades.
Like when he hit the ‘Shot Heard ‘Round the World’ on the par-4 16th hole in the final round of the 2020 PGA Championship at Harding Park, a drive that traveled 291 yards and came to rest seven feet from the pin, from where he made eagle to cap a closing 64 that gave him ownership of the Wanamaker Trophy in only his second major appearance.
Or when, in just his second start playing links golf, he won the Claret Jug in the 2021 British Open at Royal St. George’s, finishing with a bogey-free 66 to become the only player in history to win two major championship debuts. Morikawa joined Gene Sarazen, Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, and Jordan Spieth as the only players in the past 100 years to win two majors before turning 25 by winning the Champion Golfer of the Year award.
Last month, he made history by becoming the first American to win the Race to Dubai, finishing with five birdies in his final seven holes to beat Rory McIlroy and win the DP World Tour Championship.
Well, the five-time PGA Tour winner who also claimed the victory and went 3-0-1 in his maiden Ryder Cup when the United States thrashed Europe in September may add to his impressive CV this week in the Bahamas’ tropical surroundings.
Morikawa would become the No. 1 player in the official global rankings if he wins the Hero World Challenge at Albany Golf Club, which has drawn 20 of the game’s greatest players from around the world. He would reach that exalted position in only his 61st professional start, becoming the second-fastest player to do so. Is there anyone who has gotten to No. 1 faster? The tournament’s host, Tiger Woods, became the world’s top-ranked golfer after only 21 professional starts around the world.
While he deserves it, Morikawa will not be lounging in the sun or floating on a boat to commemorate his successful 2021 season. Even if he is sharing a home with fellow young star Viktor Hovland this week.
That’s not how he’s built. Even if he’s soaking in the sun with friends on this island paradise, he’s the goal-setting sort who doesn’t grow complacent.
“We’re having a fantastic time, but when we’re out on the golf course, I’m here to win,” Morikawa said Wednesday. “If I don’t keep that in mind, this week will go by and I’ll realize it wasn’t a great way to conclude 2021.”
This week, he’ll take a similar strategy to the Race to Dubai’s final competition. He could have gotten lost in his thoughts as he considered all of the possibilities for being the first American to win the season-long points race.
He made the decision not to.
“Once I got to the competition, I started chatting to the journalists and realized I was at an actual tournament.” “I only cared about one thing: winning,” he stated. “That was my concentration, and it will continue to be my focus this week, because we’re going to have a lot of fun.”
“Once I tee it up, I have to be ready tomorrow, and that’s the focus.” No matter how much fun I’m having out here or how much resting I’m doing, I’ve got to be ready to play actual golf and tournament golf by the time I tee it up tomorrow.”
Those close to him aren’t surprised by his assessment of the week. Morikawa is a wise old soul who is wise beyond his years and keeps his ego in control. He’s a self-assured young man who is unsurprised by his early success.
“I set a lot of ambitious objectives for myself, but they’re all achievable.” They’re not ridiculous, but I set a lot of lofty objectives for myself, and that’s the standard I’ve always held myself to. He explained, “I just keep pushing myself.” “It’s time to set new goals, especially now that I’ve won.” I didn’t do that, as I mentioned after the PGA, and I went on a little downward spiral. When you do something positive, you want to remember it, but you also need to remember the negative times.
“We’re always on the lookout for what we’re doing well, what we’re not doing well, and that’s what’s amazing.”